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Brussels, a reading of the city. From the Europe of merchants to the capital of Europe

Brussels, a reading of the city. De l’Europe des marchands à la capitale de l’Europe, Ed. de l’Université de Bruxelles, 2014.

Brussels is a complex city, capital of Europe in the heart of a fragile country, where it is both a cement and a stake. The boundaries of the Capital Region, which are much narrower than those of the metropolitan area, are not just an administrative fact. They weigh heavily on the problems facing Brussels: that of an economically prosperous city, a small world city, but at the same time a city of the poor, with a rapidly growing population and insufficient budgetary resources. Among the paradoxes, not the least of which is the fact that Brussels, which crystallises Belgian community policy positions, is rather confronted with the management of its cosmopolitan character, which itself covers social oppositions.

The internal social differentiations and their projection into the urban landscape have been built up over a long period of history. They have been reproduced by the real estate rent, and bear the original marks of the topography, but they also reflect the dialectic between urban and state power, and the successive (re)positioning of the bourgeoisie and the urban middle classes. The book thus provides a grid for interpreting the evolution of urban planning and development policies which accompanied the accelerated changes in Brussels after the Second World War.

All in all, this little book offers a holistic reading of Brussels. It gives the reader a better understanding of both the meaning and origin of a particular landscape of the city and its overall economic, political and social problems.


Date de parution



Christian Vandermotten


Edition de l'Université de Bruxelles


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